Funky and stylish

BRIAN BAS­SETT goes shop­ping in the Honda Brio Hatch i-vtec Com­fort

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

WHILE do­ing re­search for this re­view, I re­mem­bered an in­struc­tion on a Mozart sonata I used to play as a child.

It asked for the piece to be played al­le­gro con brio, which means faster with en­ergy. It re­minded me of the act that a num­ber of Honda’s ve­hi­cles have mu­si­cal as­so­ci­a­tions, like the Bal­lade, the Jazz and now the Brio.

The Brio was in­tro­duced to South Africa in 2012, af­ter be­ing launched at the Thai­land In­ter­na­tional Expo in 2010. At the launch, the CEO of Honda iden­ti­fied the car as be­ing aimed at younger mar­kets in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and so the Brio was pro­duced as an at­trac­tive model at an af­ford­able price. Our thanks to Gary Stokes dealer prin­ci­pal of Honda Fury in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for al­low­ing us a few days with the ve­hi­cle in or­der to find out whether Honda’s hopes for the car have be­come a re­al­ity.


There is a temp­ta­tion to see the Brio as a ju­nior Jazz; solid as a rock, able to sur­vive a North Korean nu­clear test and with more in­ter­nal space than a woman’s handbag. Cer­tainly, its smil­ing front face with com­pos­ite head­light pods flank­ing a cen­trally placed Honda badge un­der­lined by a black grille flanked by fog lamps, does have a fam­ily link with the Jazz, but mov­ing back­wards along the ris­ing crease lines on the bon­net and the dy­namic, wedged waist­line at the sides, the Brio has a de­sign en­ergy of its own. Hav­ing said that, as one’s eye reaches the roof sum­mit, the de­sign cuts off and be­comes the tail-gate, which is some­thing of a vis­ual let down. Also, the tail­gate dou­bles as the rear win­dow and I was some­what un­com­fort­able slam­ming it closed for fear of break­age, al­though you get used to it. The colour-coded side mir­rors are elec­tric and the car has four doors, but for some­one my size the rear door­ways are a lit­tle nar­row.


The Brio is 3,6 m long, 1,5 m high and 1,6 m wide, but re­mark­ably spa­cious in­side. The car fol­lows Honda’s max­i­mum ma­chine, min­i­mum de­sign phi­los­o­phy and pro­vides com­fort­able seat­ing for four adults. It is pos­si­ble to have three peo­ple seated at the back, but not for long dis­tances. The in­ter­nal plas­tics are hard, but the pan­els are well fit­ted and there were no rat­tles in the car even on poor sur­faces. The dash­board is min­i­mal­ist in de­sign and the in­stru­ment panel is clear, ana­logue and sim­ple to read. Other sur­faces at the front are re­duced to a min­i­mum, pro­vid­ing gen­er­ous legroom for the front pas­sen­gers. The tac­tile and en­joy­able three-spoke ad­justable steer­ing wheel has au­dio con­trols mounted on it The cen­tral stack is dom­i­nated by a four-speaker, ra­dio, Aux/ USB, with con­trols for the ef­fec­tive air conditioner below it. The gear lever has a short, soft throw, mak­ing gear chang­ing a plea­sure. The seats are well-up­hol­stered in what ap­pears to be a heavy, hard-wear­ing cov­er­ing and the upright op­tions of the front seats are slim, leav­ing more space for the rear pas­sen­gers. With so much space de­voted to the driver and pas­sen­gers, the boot is only 161 litres with the rear seats up, but with the seat folded down this goes to 519 litres.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Brio has ABS with EBD, a driver and pas­sen­ger air bag, seat belts for all five pas­sen­gers and a high rear-mounted brake light. Pro­tec­tion is also pro­vided by what Honda calls its G-Force Con­trol Tech­nol­ogy, where the high-ten­sile steel in the body pro­tects against crashes. Also, the car’s nose is de­signed to of­fer any pedes­trian it strikes the best chance of sur­vival. The car also has re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and im­mo­biliser.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Brio weighs only 900 kg, while its four-cylin­der 65 Kw/109 Nm petrol en­gine and five-speed man­ual or auto gear­box re­sults in peppy per­for­mance in town, with speed plat­forms no prob­lem. 0-100 km/h comes up in about 12 sec­onds and you should get be­tween 6,5 to 7,0 litres per 100 km in fuel con­sump­tion. I needed to shop in Dur­ban and took the Brio to Dur­ban’s Gate­way, with park­ing spa­ces so small that on two oc­ca­sions I have had my car scratched by larger ve­hi­cles mov­ing in or out of ad­ja­cent spa­ces. Small size, how­ever, works in the Honda’s favour and park­ing was a plea­sure. I left the car for two hours and re­turned to find no scuff marks on the doors, as is usual with ad­ja­cent park­ers mis­cal­cu­lat­ing when ex­it­ing their cars and, of course, no­body leaves a note. On the N3, the Brio lacks the torque for light­ning per­for­mance, but work the gears and you will have no trou­ble over­tak­ing any­thing. The car cruises ef­fort­lessly at 120 kph and of­ten drifts up­wards to 130 kph. Ride com­fort is a fea­ture of this car, while cor­ner­ing is flat and the steer­ing light and re­spon­sive. The Brio is no off roader, but it will take you where you need to go on gravel at a rea­son­able speed. Over­all, the Brio is zippy, funky fun and good value.

Costs, guar­an­tees and the op­po­si­tion

The Brio Hatch 1,2 Trend comes in at R138 000, with the Auto Com­fort cost­ing around R164 000. The Amaze sedan Trend, which has a larger boot, costs around R151 000 and the Amaze Com­fort Auto about R 174 000. The car comes with a three-year, 100 000 km war­ranty and a two-year 60 000 km ser­vice plan, with 15 000 km ser­vice in­ter­vals. Also look at Toy­ota Aygo, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10, VW Polo, among oth­ers.


The Honda Brio Hatch i-vtec Com­fort.


The Amaze sedan Trend, which has a larger boot, will cost you around R151 000.

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